CBO Throws Brick At Debt Proposals
MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.
ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:
And I'm Robert Siegel. It's Groundhog Day on Capitol Hill, a day of waiting and waiting, a day very reminiscent of the previous day. Last night, the Congressional Budget Office dealt a setback to the House Republican proposal to raise the debt ceiling, saying Speaker John Boehner's plan saves much less than he thought. Today, it dealt the same setback to the Senate Democrats' proposal. Lawmakers are trying to regroup and NPR congressional correspondent Andrea Seabrook has been following it all and she joins us now from the Capitol. And Andrea, I understand that Speaker Boehner has unveiled a revised plan this evening.
ANDREA SEABROOK: Yes. We do have details now of Speaker Boehner's revised plan. It would cut $917 billion over 10 years. That is a little more than the 900 billion that it would raise in the debt limit. That's the first part of the two-stage process. And more importantly, the new version of the bill - and this is scored by the Congressional Budget Office, so these numbers are reliable - it would cut $22 billion in the very first fiscal year, which starts just at the end of this year in October.
SIEGEL: Well, in its new form, can it pass the House given that some Republicans to the right of the speaker have opposed the plan in its earlier stages?
SEABROOK: Yes, well, there certainly will still be some that are opposed to it. They're getting serious pressure from their leadership now, though. Georgia Republican Phil Gingrey described the pressure this way...
PHIL GINGREY: Strong, strong pressure, absolutely. And very persuasive and I try to listen and listen very carefully. I'll continue to do that but, you know, right now, I'm still a no.
SEABROOK: But the leadership is making the case that if the Republicans hang together, then they will have much more leverage in this process. They only control one chamber of one branch of government, remember. And here's what Peter King of New York said about that.
PETER KING: You go with the president, you go with Harry Reid or you go with John Boehner. If we vote it down, then we have nothing left on our side. We would weaken ourselves as a party, really, for the next year and a half.
SEABROOK: I mean, Robert, imagine if the Republicans brought their own plan to the floor and then weren't able to pass it. It would be such a big huge failure that the Republicans really are feeling a lot of pressure to vote for their own bill.
SIEGEL: Well, let's turn now to the Senate, and the Democratic majority there. Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid's plan didn't pass muster at the Congressional Budget Office, either.
SEABROOK: No, it didn't. It came up about $500 billion short of what he wanted it to be. But because his number had been much higher than the one he would raise the debt ceiling by, he only has to come up with another 200 billion to make it match. You know, this whole thing is just a numbers game and working with the Congressional Budget Office is the only way to get real numbers out of this.
SIEGEL: And do we know if Majority Leader Reid is also being scored with any revision of his plan at the Congressional Budget Office?
SEABROOK: We know that he is revising, redrafting the plan, but we don't know if it's being scored yet at the Congressional Budget Office.
SIEGEL: Okay. Thank you, Andrea.
SEABROOK: My pleasure.
SIEGEL: That's NPR congressional correspondent Andrea Seabrook.
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